On one of the stalls at the "market" at the Art Museum a couple of weeks ago, was a pile of Chicken Soup for the Soul, books. I duly picked them up, one by one and browsed through them. As I did so, I appraised the seller, who seemed very eager that I should buy one. She sat forward in her chair and peered closely at me.
Then, I came upon something which gave me pause. In the front of one of them was written: "To Daddy, with love...2002" It was Chicken Soup for a Father's Soul.
"How much are these?" I asked her.
"Five dollars. They are all five dollars".
So, a gift from a daughter to a father was worth only five dollars. I looked at her again. She was quite young - about 20. Thus, her Chicken Soup gift to her father had been given when she was in her early teens. It seemed to me a soulless thing to sell a gift between daughter and father, at any price, never mind five dollars.
I thought it ironic that a series of books intended to make one take a deeper look at life and its possibilities had passed her by, entirely. She had them all: Chicken Soups for teenagers, mothers, fathers, living your dreams...the lot. She had a Chicken Soup for everything. Yet, they had not taught her the value of sentiment, of memories of times past, of the gifts between child and parent. She had, it seemed, not learnt anything by reading them. Perhaps she had never read them. Perhaps she had just bought them as "things to have and to show to others that you have".
I bought one of her Chicken Soups for the Soul - though not the one for fathers, though that was perhaps the most apt. I couldn't bring myself to acquire a gift made between another man's daughter and himself: it seemed somehow intrusive. That gift should have been treasured by both as a reminder of a time past - but it wasn't. It ended up being sold for five dollars.
That market stall girl had learnt the value of money, but not the value of life. One day her father will be no more. Will she have sold off all reminders of his life and presence, by then? Will she have nothing to remember him by?
With a girl like her, I would think a gift should not be given - for what she wants is simply hard cash. No-one should need to think of something unique for her, therefore, to demonstrate their thoughtfulness - for whatever it is will be sold off in exchange for a few dollars.
I wonder how common her attitude is? Are young Singaporeans of today people of no sentiment? Is the dollar the only thing valued?
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and five months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and ten months, and Tiarnan, twenty-seven months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind, niño, gênio criança, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)
Labels: avarice, Chicken Soup for the Soul, lack of feelings, Singapore Art Museum